Lower School

Discover Duchesne’s Lower School, where girls explore the world around them. We nurture their hearts, stimulate their minds, and envelop the girls in a compassionate community.

Lower School Academic Overview

Pre-K 3

Our Pre-K 3 program touches on a variety of topics which allow children to learn by hands on experiences. Social and emotional development is a crucial element for flourishing in our program. These skills allow children to develop positive relationships with others. The language arts and math programs allow children the opportunity to become actively engaged in their lessons and learn the fundamental skills. Science and social studies are integrated into the curriculum and taught in the real-world context. We also emphasize the importance of fine and gross motor skills through the balance of play and academics.

Pre-K 4

The Duchesne Pre-K 4 program begins the girls’ learning experience by building the foundational skills of reading, mathematics and science, social studies, problem solving, and social growth with fun, engaging, and integrated units that are designed to make important, real world connections. Technology enhances the Pre-K 4 classrooms with the girls visiting the computer lab as well as using iPads and the SMART Board to expand their learning opportunities. These tools will be a vital part of their years to come at Duchesne.


The Duchesne Kindergarten program provides an environment in which each student is encouraged to explore and discover her individual, dynamic learning style while applying her knowledge and meeting her own best expectation of herself. Some of the interrelated, cross-curricular activities include: phonemic awareness, syllables, word count, rhyming, beginning/medial/ending sounds, sound spelling, decoding/comprehension strategies, D’Nealian penmanship, sight and high frequency words, and the development of expressive and written language. Our math program includes seeing the pattern and interrelationship of numbers, problem solving, computation, estimation, place value, analyzing and interpreting data from graphs, measurement, utilizing the calendar, and symmetry. Science units include the study of wood, trees, weather, the five senses, and healthful eating habits. Social Studies topics include maps, communities, and a cultural study of China.

First Grade

First grade is a transition year from early education to elementary education. The curriculum becomes more independent and self-directed. Every day routines reinforce the skills and responsibilities the girls will carry throughout their education. The girls become independent readers and apply their reading skills throughout all areas of the curriculum. The girls begin to see themselves as published authors. The first grade math curriculum spirals to include money, place value, and number recognition from the beginning of the year.

Second Grade

The second grade program at Duchesne Academy strives for educational excellence for each student. Second graders continue to develop their reading skills as they learn to read more complex words as well as read longer and more complex texts in a variety of genres such as fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. They also develop their reading comprehension skills as they talk about what they read and use them for developing and presenting further ideas. Second graders will refine and expand their writing and grow as writers as they begin to write more detailed and longer texts. Technology is an important part of second grade as students begin to integrate it across the curriculum. Second graders practice their addition and subtraction skills as well as learn to eventually solve problems mentally. In class, math tools and manipulatives, such as blocks, tiles, and different shapes, are used to help students practice math using concrete, visible objects. In addition, students in second grade begin to learn concepts which lay the foundation for multiplication as well as continue to gain a deeper understanding of math concepts.

Third Grade

Third grade requires a learning leap. It is a transition toward being more independent, emphasizing responsibility for the students’ own learning and actions. The girls employ applied mathematics and in-the-classroom technology frequently and effectively. Now established readers and writers, the students face more challenging material and topics, such as the Elizabethan Era and the American Revolution. Through the Lucy Calkins writing program, each girl discovers her own writing voice, adding unique and creative touches and exploring several writing genres.

Fourth Grade

The fourth grade curriculum provides a strong foundation in the basic skills of learning and encourages students to become competent, independent, and creative thinkers. Students are expected to be active participants in the learning process, learning on their own through inquiry, discovery, and exploration of their world. Study skills and student responsibility are emphasized, which will prepare them for Middle School. Our departmentalized curriculum focuses on listening attentively, time management, test-taking skills, maintaining accurate homework assignments, and building organizational expertise. The faculty focuses on all aspects of the child’s development: intellectual, spiritual, social, emotional, and physical.

Lower School Enrichment Classes


The Duchesne Lower School art program fosters an appreciation of the fine arts through activities that enable each student to express ideas through art making at an appropriate developmental level. The elements and principles of art are taught from Pre-K 3 through fourth grade using a variety of media and processes. An understanding of art history and culture is cultivated through discussion and art viewing. Art activities are vertically aligned with core subjects to enrich teaching and offer a holistic approach to learning.


The French language is an important part of the cultural heritage of Sacred Heart schools. French instruction begins in Pre-K 3. At the Pre-K 4 and kindergarten levels, the focus is on oral language learned and practiced through games, songs, drills, and coloring. In grades one through four, students develop the skills of reading and writing in French while continuing to build on their oral communication skills. French history and culture are part of the third and fourth grade curriculum. The Lower School French program has a communicative focus and aims to present the language in real world contexts, and class is conducted in French.


The Sr. Lamy Lower School Library provides a collection of print and electronic resources to meet the academic and recreational needs of our students. Our two main goals are to foster a love of books and reading and to teach students to use the library confidently and efficiently in order to find information. Students are taught how to use the library by using a hands-on approach, which is curriculum driven. We wish to produce life-long readers who are information literate.


Students learn music through sequential instruction, integrating Kodaly, Orff, and Dalcroze type movement as core methods of instruction. The concepts of expressive qualities, timbre, duration, pitch, form, texture, and style are taught utilizing a vocal approach. Performance is an outgrowth of the curriculum. An appreciation and love for music is fostered in each child.

Physical Education

The physical education curriculum has been developed in order to help each student build a solid foundation in motor skills and physical fitness. PE activities are designed to promote gross motor skill development, body awareness, and coordination. The physical education program helps the students to use their bodies more efficiently and knowledgeably through the practice of a wide variety of fundamental and sports related movement skills. Good sportsmanship and team spirit are important components of the physical education program.


The technology program's goals are to develop a sense of computer literacy in each student, to enable the students to perform various computer operations, to experience new technologies, and to use that knowledge in a responsible and independent manner. The use of technology is integrated in other subject areas of the curriculum.

Computer and iPads in the Classroom

Students will use the computers and iPads to:

  • Reinforce skills in other subject areas
  • Practice keyboarding
  • Learn new programs
  • Research information
  • Use word processing and other programs to create projects
  • Explore new ideas

Computer Lab

Students will go to the computer lab to:

  • Increase their computer literacy
  • Learn how to use a computer and various programs correctly
  • Learn proper keyboarding techniques
  • Learn and use correctly, word processing and other programs used in classroom-generated projects
  • Learn how to correctly and safely use the Internet
  • Learn how to create multimedia projects
  • Explore coding and robotics

Lower School Office

Ginger Montalbano
Head of Lower School

Cortney Kindall-Richey, LPC
Lower School Counselor

Lucy Moffitt
Assistant to the Head of Lower School

Standardized Testing

The CTP4 by Educational Record Bureau or ERB is administered to grades 2, 3, and 4 in the fall. Results of the standardized achievement tests are sent to the parents. Although the results of these tests supply useful information, they are only one measure of a student's overall performance and achievement in a given year.